To combat a rise in military suicides, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin unveiled a comprehensive plan outlining actions to address the issue within the military community.
This initiative builds upon two years of extensive work on suicide prevention throughout the Department of Defense (DoD).
The Secretary’s initiative comes as a response to the creation of the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee in 2021, which conducted internal reviews at 11 military installations.
These reviews involved 457 focus groups and, over 2,100 Service members, and 670 civilian staff interviews. Drawing insights from this extensive review and existing research, the SPRIRC formulated 127 near- and long-term recommendations to tackle this pressing concern within the military ranks.
Outlined in the Secretary’s memo are five strategic lines of effort designed to curtail the number of suicides across the Armed Forces:
These lines of effort will be further supported by numerous enabling tasks, all collectively aimed at reshaping the Department’s approach to suicide prevention. Importantly, these initiatives align with the Secretary’s overarching “Taking Care of Our People” program, underscoring the Department’s unwavering commitment to the well-being of the Total Force.
The Department has expressed its dedication to reducing suicide rates within the Armed Forces and is now pursuing an ambitious timeline for planning and implementing the five lines of effort. The focus will be on prioritizing high-impact actions to lay a strong foundation for long-term progress. Oversight for these efforts will be carried out by the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, which will ensure implementation is practical and methodical. The Department’s goal is to fully implement each line of effort by the end of fiscal year 2030.
For further details on this critical initiative, you can access the full memo, “New DoD Actions to Prevent Suicide in the Military,” here.
If you or someone you know is grappling with thoughts of suicide, it’s essential to remember that you’re not alone. Contact the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline at 9-8-8 or visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ for more information and support.